You're not understanding most of what people say:
Despite the effort you're putting into learning Sinhala, you find that you still don't understand most of what's being said around you.
Even if they are considerate and start off in English (or any other language you understand), inevitably they'll get carried away and slip into Sinhala and suddenly you're left out.
You might pickup a word here and there but it's almost impossible to know what they're saying because how fast these Sri Lankans seem to speak! You still need to constantly rely on someone to translate for you, which brings around it's own set of frustrations (see below).
You constantly need someone to translate for you:
Sure, you hate it that you don't get what they’re saying but you honestly don’t know what is worse: Sitting there feeling lost or being the reason that they stop the conversation to translate it for you, just so that you feel included.
Sometimes you smile blankly pretending to follow just to avoid this situation. Heavens forbid that dreaded moment if someone asks you “You understood, right?” and you fake smile and nod.
You can't find the time to learn it:
You could go through all the information you get online, make your own notes, your own summaries, your own pronunciation files, and eventually learn to speak it. But have you got the time for that?
If you're like most of my students, you probably don’t.
You’ve got work, or you’ve got studies, or you've got day-to-day life to deal with. No matter how much you prioritize Sinhala, you just can’t manage to find time to yourself to sit down and do something about it.
You plan to set aside some time at the end of day for it but at night you’re just too exhausted to learn something new and instead you do some easy TV watching or light reading or you just crash to bed early.
You're easily forgetting what you learned:
But let’s say you somehow pulled off a miracle and managed to find time to study Sinhala. And guess what? You actually learned something in that first sitting! You’re happy. But then you get back to it the same time the next day and sadly realize that “Uh oh”, you’ve forgotten most of it already!
Now what? Do you go back and to that same lesson? Now you're feeling like you're stuck in the same place.
You're not sure about your pronunciation:
Then there’s the huge problem of getting the right pronunciation.
You’re struggling with how most words sound to you and you’re not sure how to pronounce them. This could make even the most self-confident person shy to speak because now you’re self-conscious about how you sound to others.
You need to hear each word being said out loud by someone reliable whom you can trust or you’re never going to be confident that this is the right way to say it. Nobody wants to be laughed at or misunderstood.
Also, what if you say it wrong and offend someone?
The flow of the language doesn't come naturally to you:
The Sinhala grammar rules might be different to the languages you're familiar with.
So while you may know many Sinhala words, when you then try to put them into a sentence, you end up speaking broken Sinhala because you've still not grasped the basics of Sinhala grammar.
(By the way, this is not your fault and doesn't mean that you're not smart. Most of my students have felt this way)
You're not making that "deeper connection" that you hoped for:
Maybe you can communicate with them in English or any other language so you really don’t need to know Sinhala. However, you would like to learn their language because you feel that you will make a better and deeper connection with them. You want to feel that stronger bond.
You know that Sinhala will bring you closer to each other than you already are. It just shows that you are committed to making an effort (and also making them happy).
The whole thing is taking "too damn long"!:
Learning Sinhala will be a lifelong process for you. That's what I tell my students. As long as you live, you will keep learning new things if it continues to be a part of your life.
However, in the meantime, you need to reach certain milestones at given intervals to keep your motivation high. The fact that you're not reaching these milestones as fast as you had hoped can once again lead to the debilitating feeling that you're stuck in the same place.
Your confidence is taking an unnecessary beating:
Because of all these pain-in-the-ass frustrations, you now start questioning your own capability and start wondering if it’s a problem with the Sinhala language or if it's you. As in, if you’re really this bad at learning a new language.
Slowly (and most often, without your knowledge) your confidence has begun to crack and you're left with a feeling of hopelessness.
This is bad because most people once they reach here will find it very challenging to get back on track.